I desperately miss writing here, and I log in all the time, look around, write down notes for posts, and then go away.
Here’s the thing: I am trying to be good to myself and good about myself, meaning that I am trying to treat myself well and trying to be thoughtful with how I present myself and to only write here when I feel like I have something to say. Full, thought-out ideas. And I haven’t had the energy to think things out because I’m still recovering from the depression I was in over the summer, and because work has been mentally and emotionally draining, and because I’m trying to develop new habits.
I really, really want to be writing. I’ve been writing a lot more, but not the kind of a lot I need to if I want to legitimately call myself a writer. I don’t like that, but because I have other things to take care of, like working enough to pay my bills and trying to stay healthy, I’m not able to make it a priority. I know lots of authors have jobs and kids and lives, and I only really have the first, and yet they make it work, and that’s great for them. Right now, I’m just not able.
But I’m making it a goal. I’ve read, and probably you have, too, that it takes something like two months to develop a habit. Right? Probably Self magazine told me that. At any rate, that doesn’t seem far off. It didn’t take long after I moved to Silicon Valley and started working at an institution that is powered by Google Apps for me to construct my life entirely around my Google Calendar. If you force them, habits happen. But I can’t put “writing” in my calendar on a daily basis yet. Not just yet.
Because first I’m about halfway into my new habit that I’m developing: exercise.
Exercise is good for me. It’s good for everyone, because it’s basically how you ensure that you live until next year. But it’s also good for me because I use it as my extra medication, rather than upping my actual drug dosage for my bipolar disorder. Even when I hate it, it still has something of that Legally Blonde effect, which really is true, even if it’s ridiculous that all of us think of it as Elle Woods’ deduction, not a science thing, in which doing things to your body does things to your brain. I mean, duh.
Anyway. I gained a lot of weight during grad school, and I continued to gain it during my first year at my job. That’s unsurprising but still problematic, not because I’m in any sort of dangerous BMI range but because I am still technically overweight, and what’s more, I know I could be better. I know I once had better eating habits; I know I used to feel strong and fit, not sluggish; I know I used to look at myself and see someone attractive (even if I hated nearly everything else about her, because it was high school). I want to get all those things back, except that now I want the attractive person in the mirror to go with the grown up person I mostly like today. Basically, what I want is to be a person I’m proud of and a person who gets the things she wants, and part of that requires being someone who is awake and happy and looks as good as she feels and vice versa, and waking up early and burning some calories and making some endorphins seems to be the way to do that. I know my body has changed as I’ve become an adult, and I’ve no delusions that I will look like I did at 17. But I also know that at 17, my bipolar disorder, my GI issues, and my breathing condition were all un- or misdiagnosed, and yet I still managed to be more social and productive and driven and goal-oriented than I am now.
So that’s what I’m up to these days. I’m making getting up at 5:25 on weekdays a thing that I do, not a thing that I force myself to do. I’m making spinning, swimming, and hiking a part of my life that is as natural as doing the dishes – regular, normal, not hard, but also not a dealbreaker if very occasionally I half-ass it. I’m trying to take advantage of the gym membership I currently get for free, and once I’m utilizing that membership to its fullest potential like it’s nothing, I’ll be able to start a new habit. I know I’m going to get there. Already I’m starting to have that feeling where it’s more crappy when I don’t exercise than when I do, and I think the hormones that regulate appetite are starting to reset, and I’m not binge eating as much as I used to. It is possible to make yourself have positive habits, it turns out. But not if you try to do ten of them at once.
It’s kind of good, because exercising does all sorts of things to your brain in addition to endorphins and not killing your husband, like make you more cognitively aware, so ever since I started exercising, I’ve had more clarity about the novel I’m more working on than the other one. I’ve had more ideas. I’ve had more of a desire to write, and that’s the key to everything. So while I’m writing paragraphs here and there, and while my writing/critique group helps keep me moving, I’m letting my brain percolate a bit while I teach my body to torch some of that fat. That fat is carrying bad thoughts with it, and I don’t need that right now. It’ll be awhile before I’m able to run a marathon, but in another month or two, I think I will have the habit down and can get back to my real work, which is what happens when my brain reads words and thinks about them and makes its own in response.